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Temporomandibular joint syndrome, commonly known as TMJ, is pain in the jaw joint that can be caused by a number of different medical conditions. The inflamed joint can cause chronic pain, clicking, and cracking with use. Pain from this area can also radiate out and cause secondary pain in the ear, in the neck, or cheek area as many muscles connect to this area.

TMJ is an uncomfortable condition that may be the cause of pain or misery for you.

You may not have considered TMJ as a possibility when it came to your jaw pain, but it affects thousands of Americans every year and can be behind some of the most frustrating facial and neck pain out there. Educating yourself on the symptoms, underlying causes, and treatments can be incredibly beneficial for your health and happiness moving forward.

A crash course in TMJ is below to help you kick off your research into the condition and figure out if it’s time to talk to your dentist about the problem.

Causes

There are many things that could be behind a TMJ diagnosis. The most common of which is chronic teeth grinding or jaw clenching, often during sleep when you’re unable to control it. Another possibility is trauma to the area, such as a hard impact to the jaw area. This can cause dislocation or breakage which can result in longer term problems with your jaw. Forms of arthritis can also be behind TMJ, certain joint cancers can also cause symptoms, as well as birth deformities.

Symptoms

Pain in the jaw itself is the most common but this pain can radiate down your neck or up into other parts of your skull and can also cause muscle spasms or cramping. More serious problems that can arise is tinnitus and even hearing loss–in fact, many people mistake TMJ for ear infections. Facial swelling on the affected side as well as clicking or cracking of that joint are also common signs.

Behaviors That Cause It

An important thing to note is the underlying cause of TMJ from a behavioral and even psychological standpoint. Many people who suffer from TMJ have stress or emotional distress that causes clenching or teeth grinding habits. It’s an important part of treatment and diagnosis to keep this in mind and keep an eye on it.

Related Questions

What Are My Treatment Options?

Always start with a visit to the dentist. Together you can decide what’s best for you. Typically, it will take multiple specialist visits to develop a treatment such as a retainer. Painkillers and muscle relaxers are common in conjunction with mouth guards. More involved treatments involve surgery and physical therapy. Invasive therapies are rarely a first choice.

Are There Home Remedies For TMJ?

For minor TMJ cases, at home remedies can relieve symptoms. Painkillers, a diet of softer food, and stress reduction can allow the jaw to relax and heal. For acute episodes of pain, warm compresses are a great option for temporary pain relief and soothing the inflamed joint.

TMJ is common, frustrating, and painful. But it’s reversible and highly treatable if you get the right advice, at the right time. Talk first to your dentist about the condition to get treatment options. A dental evaluation will provide some answers.

Sedki Dentistry can help. We are a full-service family dental clinic that can address all of your dental health needs and concerns. Dr. Sedki has been keeping mouths healthy and smiles bright for over 15 years and stays on top of the latest dental technologies and procedures. Our team is experienced in cosmetic dentistry, dental treatments, dental procedures, Invisalign, teeth whitening, dental Implants, orthodontics, children’s’ dentistry and more! Call today for a Free Dental Evaluation and Consultation!